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Port needs to be proactive, not reactive
For the first time in a long time — or perhaps ever — the Port of Coupeville has money to spare.
The time is ripe to invest in the historic structures under the port’s care, instead of just reacting to problems.
Currently, the board has a long list of projects and problems, from repairing rusty nails and rotting boards on the wharf to dealing with the septic system at Greenbank Farm.
Most recently, safety concerns closed the public beach access by the port office. What was originally thought of as a stairwell issue turned out to be much larger, involving the port office foundation and bulkhead. Recent estimates put just engineering costs at $17,500.
Not only is the port tasked with wisely spending taxpayer dollars, but it’s tasked with caring for and maintaining two historic properties at two sites — the Coupeville wharf and the Greenbank Farm.
Port officials said at their most recent meeting they in past years they took a reactive approach to dealing with repairs and took the bandaid approach when doing so.
The port has a $335,000 windfall that officials have yet to decide how to spend. The money was gained by selling commercial developments rights to some property on Wonn Road at Greenbank Farm through the Conservations Futures Funds program.
In its regular 2014 budget, commissioners allocated roughly $70,000 for maintenance projects and repairs. That budget covered roughly seven items on the list, stopping at the stairwell project.
The port’s board of directors recently hired a full-time handyman to address maintenance problems, which is a good first step in taking a proactive approach to dealing with problems.
Officials need to lay out a plan with those additional funds so it can continue down the past of being proactive rather than reactive.
— Megan Hansen is editor of The Whidbey Examiner. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org